Top Me was demo’d at DemoCampHamilton15 as ‘Props’ and it garnered a ton of interest from the community – check out the following interview with the creators!
Tell me about yourselves
Julian: Hi! My name is Julian Villella, and Iām the Android developer for Top Me (@TopMeApp). My background is in developing computer graphics software (ray tracing specifically, and GPU optimization). I picked up Android development after Google allured me with their fantastic API and open platform. Iāve had some success on the Google Play Store so far. One of my apps is a few days away from hitting the 150,000 downloads mark (exciting!).
Nino: Hello, my name is Nino and I made the web service and backend for our app. Itās nice to be able to get more involved in the Hamilton software community. There are many talented and successful software developers and entrepreneurs in this city.
What is Top Me?
Julian: Top Me (formally Props for those who were at DemoCamp in February) is an app where the community challenges each other through 12 second videos. We noticed the countless pictures and videos across YouTube, Facebook, Vine, etc. where people would show off something they did/accomplished. There were also quite a few fads that went on like the cinnamon challenge, bread challenge, 24-hour challenge, etc. gathering thousands upon thousands of people to participate. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger, and who doesnāt like to throw down a challenge? The problem until now was that there was no platform dedicated to this. Top Me is our attempt at filling that gap.
Where did you get the idea for Top Me?
Julian: The idea started as creating timed challenges that would be sent to a random person to complete. It eventually turned into Top Me from fixing all the holes in the concept and trashing what we didnāt think worked. At the same time we also realized the importance of a community, social driven platform, and how important it is for these challenges to take off.
How does the app work?
Julian: We tried to take what worked from other apps that people are already used to. The process is simple; you create a challenge (title and description), and optionally record your first video attempt (12 seconds) to start it. Letās say for example you wanted to do something funny, how many cloves of garlic can you eat in 12 seconds? This challenge will then show up on a list where people can perform their take on it. You can also comment on the videos and prop them (same thing as your āheartā or ālikeā).
How has it been received so far?
Julian: Weāve gotten a lot of validation from the idea, designs and current beta. In February we got the opportunity to present at Democamp (thanks Kevin!). Thereās really nothing more exciting than having people come up to you and express their excitement for something youāve spend night after night working on. In fact, itās kept me going even more than coffee!
What’s your plan to grow the Top Me user base?
Julian: We released the beta last week and are in real need for testers. Once we are happy with the appās stability we want to target it to students at Universities and Colleges. We feel if they like it, it could really take off. The hard part with these social networking apps is getting the ball rolling. With enough support from the students at these schools it will hopefully drive downloads.
What type of challenges are you hoping people will upload?
Nino: Some of the challenges I would love to see in the future are ones that involve friends having to compete together, such as double piggybacks and human pyramids. It would also be interesting for people to show off their skills and talents, or to challenge one another to do Good Samaritan-type things.
Will you monetize Top Me? How do you plan to do this?
Nino: I think these kinds of apps are hard to monetize at the start. Itāll always be free, and we are going to stay away from ads for now. With that said, SnapChat seems to have done fairly well without monetizing in the beginning. Hopefully we will find someone more business savvy to come on board.
Where do you see Top Me going in the future?
Nino: Currently the app is only for Android, going forward it would be awesome to see it on more platforms. I do not own an Android phone, so it would be nice if I were able to use my own app in the future, haha.
Where can readers get Top Me?
Nino: Right now the app is in the Google Play Store. You can find it by searching topme (one word). Iāll also put the link below. Otherwise you can go to www.topme.co. The iOS version will eventually be on there too.
How can the community help you make Top Me a bigger success?
Nino: If anyone would like to leave us their thoughts and feedback on the app it would mean a lot. Sharing the app with friends and family would help tremendously too.
Julian: Iāve had some challenges (no pun intended) with the video recording portion of the app. The Android camera has been a pain to work with. The differences in hardware vendor support, using it against the default (landscape, full screen), front and back facing cameras, the state machine media recorder, ffmpeg through the JNI, etc. has been very time consuming. The good news is that itās working on more and more phones now. Galaxy S3, LG Optimus 4X HD, Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 4, 5 have been tested and are now functional. Weād really appreciate if a few could try taking a video with the front and back camera and send us the bug report if something goes wrong. It will be a huge help in making this more stable.